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Art & Lies [Paperback]

Jeanette Winterson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book by Winterson, Jeanette

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Most helpful customer reviews
I really do like Jeanette Winterson and have read several of her novels, all of which have been very good. Books like Sexing the Cherry, Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Passion and Gut Symmetries were well written, insightful, truly unique and well constructed stories told in a bold, clear & decisive voice.
This book, however. is an unfortunate mess. I hate giving authors I truly like such a lousy rating, but in this case it's unavoidable.
One of the blurbs on the book cover speaks to a "writer writing about something terribly important", which may in fact be the case, if only one could figure out just what it is. It's really a shame as the concept is intriguing-the execution is the problem.
Winterson is a master of the use of language, usually leaving the reader painting vivid-though often very unsettling-mental pictures to accompany the text. Here however the text is so dense, the characterizations so obscure, the thought process so complex that one can-and often does-- read and reread a passage several time, still emerging with no real idea what is going on.
Everyone has a bad day now and then-and with this effort, Winterson has definitely had hers. This is truly an author worth reading but this effort should be skipped.
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"There's no such thing as autobiography, there's only art and lies." -Jeanette Winterson
A train goes careening down the tracks, carrying several passengers with catchy names: Handel, Picasso, and Sapho. Another surfaces, Ms. Doll Snodpiece, who also has a train connection to these three. These characters' lives all intersect as the story wends it way along to its smashing conclusion. This author is extremely talented, and has characteristically set the work in a fresh new way. It contains some mesmerizingly beautiful prose, which is also characteristic of this author. Also typical is the strong character development, and the bits of philosophy and wisdom inherent in the story.
It is difficult to admit, because this wonderful author and her books have dazzled me in the past, but this work lost its momentum about halfway through. It took a long time to find the wherewithal to finish this book but, to quote my friend Angie: "it redeemed itself in the end." Other books she has written have dazzled me much more, however. Recommended -- but please consider: Written on the Body, The Passion, and Sexing the Cherry by the same author, which are all MUCH better books.
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By mp
A stream of consciousness type novel that follows the musings and reflections of three characters on a train in the future: Handel, a plastic surgeon who is at odds between his faith and his profession, and was as a youth, raped by a Cardinal in Rome; Picasso, a young female artist struggling with her body, her painting, and her ineffectual family, and who was, all through childhood molested by her older brother; and Sappho, the ancient Greek poet, who bemoans the lot that historical distance has given her--a brand as the matriarch of femal homosexuality, and ignored for her literary significance--and being dead over 2000 years, powerless to change her reputation. The novel's primary theme is the inextricability of sexuality from language--and how language is manipulated to suit individual perceptions. Another interesting theme is the construction of self--to what extent do characters --through youth/inexperience/inability to act--allow themselves to be created as selves, and can it be changed? Furthermore, is a nature vs. nurture argument even appropriate to address the question of becoming and existence? A fascinating novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Anti-Cautionary Note Dec 31 1998
I have read with interest other readers' reviews of "Art & Lies," and must respond to one posted on January 24, '97, by "a reader." This reader was gave four stars, questioning Winterson's lack of a strong narrative structure. Anyone interested in Winterson's ideas of the importance of plot should refer to "Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit" and "Art [Objects]," her collection of essays. To over-simplify, her allegiance is given not to events but to the creative collaboration between author and reader, and therefore her focus is on evocative language. Narrative is, to her, only a jumping-off point for an imaginative process. A tension she exploits and expresses far better than I is that between the dry precision of a word's dictionary meaning and its power to evoke a multitude of images, emotions, analyses and other responses-- responses based both upon individuals' subjective points of view and their more general educational context. I believe it was Pope who said that poetry was "the right words in the right order." He didn't say anything about exposition, complication, or denouement. For those who would prefer the comfort of labels, then, she should perhaps be placed more on the side of the poet than the novelist as we understand the roles, for which placement she has actually stated a preference. I understand this reader's desire for more of a plot to help hold his attention when the admittedly heavy lyricism drowns him: but I must express my own view that the brief periods of standard narrative make up small oases that let us examine the lyricism with greater interest, due to the contrast. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Read with highlighter in hand
Thank you, Ms Winterson, for this beautiful journey. It is truly extraordinary when a writer reaches into my past and puts words to emotions I've never spoken aloud. Read more
Published on July 18 2001 by Ellen C. Falkenberry
1.0 out of 5 stars Yawn...
Rather than attempt to develop a plot, after delivering the initial hooks of characterization, Winterson proceeds to muddle around in their depressingly disorganized perspectives... Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2001 by AuralWreath
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Truth found in "Art & Lies"
A friend gave "Art & Lies" to me saying that the book was "most definitely for me." It has become one of my favorite books. Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2000 by N. Imbracsio
3.0 out of 5 stars Complicated calculating musings
Two of Jeannette Winterson's books have changed my life. I am absolutely moved to tears when I read "The Passion" or "Written on the Body". Read more
Published on June 23 2000 by "flavamartino"
5.0 out of 5 stars ... Into Something Rich & Strange
As the subtitle suggests, this novel hinges on a metaphor of four-part musical harmony. Like music, it does not need to be "about" anything. Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars You Can't Read This One Just Once!
I am compelled to say that Art and Lies is by far the most inspiring book I have read by an author of our day. To give this book justice, one must read it more than once. Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2000 by Kwan-Yin
5.0 out of 5 stars This is my Bible
I've read all of Jeanette's books, including her two screenplays, her book of essays, her comic book, and collection of short stories. Read more
Published on Dec 1 1998
4.0 out of 5 stars A little Complicated, but You'll get it.
THis book is a little complicated in the beginning, but once you stay with it, you won't be able to put it down. You'll want to dog-ear pages and highlight pages as I did. Read more
Published on June 20 1998
1.0 out of 5 stars your time, save your money
Nearly ten years ago Jeanette Winterson wrote a brilliant book-"The Passion". Ever since, she's completely lost the plot. Is the language beautiful? Read more
Published on Dec 23 1997
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